In an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg preached “moderation” as he was explained why National Doughnut Day received the City of New York’s stamp of approval and 32-ounce sodas were marked for an outright ban.
But as long as things in moderation are OK, what does that say about Bloomberg’s role in the 96-year-old tradition known as the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest held at Coney Island in New York City every Fourth of July, which is hardly a showcase of moderation?
In 2011 Bloomberg praised the contest with flowery language (in a video he has posted on his office’s official YouTube page), suggesting it was part of the traditional Independence Day celebration, giving Americans a moment to reflect on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“It is a moment for all New Yorkers and all Americans to celebrate the inalienable rights bestowed on us by our forefathers: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Bloomberg said. “For the contestants assembled here, that pursuit includes consuming as many hot dogs as is humanly possible. And each year, you should know, they push the limits of what is humanly possible. Now, children may find this hard to believe, but there was a time in the late 20th century when no man could consume more than 20 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Today, some men can consume two or three times that quantity of dogs, and so can some women.”
There are an estimated 364 calories in one Big Gulp filled with Coca-Cola, whereas one Nathan’s hot dog has 309 calories, 181 of which are from fat. The 2011 winner of the contest ate 62 hot dogs that amounted to 19,158 calories in a single sitting.
This contradiction hasn’t gone unnoticed by Slate’s Will Saletan either. In a piece posted on Wednesday, Saletan referred to the previous years’ contests, including the 2003 contest at which Bloomberg vowed not to raise taxes on hot dogs as he had done with cigarettes earlier that year.
“I would like to keep the taxes on hot dogs very low because I like hot dogs,” Bloomberg said.